20 Facts People Misunderstand About The Vikings

The Vikings have a strong sense of mystery. Much of what the public knows about them comes from myth and imagination. In fact, many impressions of Vikings are wrong. Here are 20 pictures that show you the real Vikings.

1. Vikings Were The First To Reach North America 

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500 years before Christopher Columbus landed in North America, Leif Eriksson had already discovered the land. Encouraged by his father, Erik the Red, who first established Greenland's settlement, Leif explored the new land but had no intention of invading the Native Americans.

2. Vikings Weren't Giants

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Vikings are usually portrayed as terrible inhuman giants who pillage and kill. However, unlike legendary Rollo or Thor, Vikings were typically around 5 feet 7 inches tall. Describing them as giants with horned helmets is just a way to make the Vikings scarier. 

3. Vikings Loved Blonde Hair

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Vikings had an obsession with blonde hair and even defined beauty in terms of having it or not. If one were not born with blonde hair, they would use a particular soap to bleach their hair until it was blonde. Some Viking men even bleached their beards to make them more blonde. 

4. Viking Women Had Basic Rights

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Although Vikings followed the rule of males being the "men of the house," women had fundamental rights, such as the right to inherit property and file for divorce. Some even tell stories of shieldmaidens, women who fought side by side with Viking men.

5. Vikings Buried The Dead In Boats

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In the Norse religion, It was believed that great warriors needed a ship to cross into the afterlife to reach Valhalla. As a result, honorable Vikings were laid on a Viking ship loaded with weapons, food, treasure, and sometimes slaves.

6. Vikings Farmed A Lot

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Although Vikings were widely known for being raiders, they actually spent more time farming than any others. A farmer was the most respectful position in Viking society. Even the legendary hero Ragnar Lothbrok was once a full-time farmer.  

7. Viking Lore Inspired The Lord of The Rings Trilogy

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Who could believe that Tolkien's household trilogy The Lord of the Rings was inspired by a Norse legend? In Viking mythology, there was also a ring that first belonged to Andvari. This ring also had the power to destroy anyone who wore it, just like the ring of The Dark Lord Sauron.

8. Vikings Didn't Use Skulls To Drink Ale

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Vikings might have been raiders, but they were not savage enough to drink human blood or use skulls to hold ale. Vikings served their drinks only in horned cups trimmed with gold and other precious metals. 

9. Viking Wedding Party Lasted A Week

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The wedding was one of the most critical events in Viking culture, and it usually lasted for a whole week. Before the wedding feast, however, the couple had to be engaged for three years. They also need to be sure to prepare enough food and drink for all the guests. 

10. Viking Homes Were Sturdy And Durable

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Believe it or not, Vikings were also talented builders. Vikings entwined wood with branches, covered it with mud and other materials to make their homes. There was also a fire pit for cooking in the middle of the house.

11. Vikings Dictated Their History

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For unknown reasons, Vikings kept their history as a purely oral record. This action might be the cause of the Vikings' violent reputation. We know a lot from their enemies' written accounts about Viking atrocities during the war, but very little about what they did in peacetime.

12. Vikings Loved Big Breakfasts

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Vikings usually made their breakfast the biggest meal of the day. While children had their porridge, adults served themselves with leftover stew, fruit, and bread. Of course, dessert was a must, and included ale, buttermilk, and dried fruit with honey.

13. Vikings Were Omnivorous

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Although meat was a predominant part of Viking's diet, it didn't mean that they only ate meat. In fact, Vikings had a well-balanced diet, including fruits, grains, and vegetables. Even milk and cheese were part of their daily cuisine.

14. Vikings Didn't Wear Horned Helmets

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When we think of the Vikings, their horned helmets come to mind. However, this claim has been proven wrong, as no documents show that the Vikings wore horned helmets on the battlefield. This misconception may have come from the savage depiction of Victorian Vikings.

15. Rap Battles Founder

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Astonishingly, Vikings had begun rap battles centuries ago. Vikings were allowed to use any form of words to insult their brothers, including poetry. The one who earned the most significant reaction won.

16. The Days Of The Week Are Named After Viking Gods

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Viking culture permeates our lives, and even the days of the week are named after the Norse gods. Wednesdays came from Woden, the god of ravens, Tuesdays from Tyr, the god of war, and Fridays from Frigg, the god of marriage.

17. Vikings' Execution Wasn't Brutal

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Another misunderstanding of Vikings is their execution "Blood Eagle." It was said that Vikings would break the ribs of criminals, open their backs, and pour salt into their bodies. However, this barbaric execution exists only in Norwegian literature, not in real life.

18. Vikings May Not Have Had Tattoos

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In movies, Viking characters are often heavily tattooed. However, there was no proof that Vikings had such a habit. The so-called "traditional" Viking tattoos might not even have belonged to Vikings, for they required self cleanliness.

19. Vikings Weren't A Unified Group

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Although Vikings formed communities, they hardly associated with each other. Tribes had their own leader and had huge cultural gaps. Some didn't even classify themselves as Vikings. They also rarely raided together because they didn't like to share prey. 

20. The Vikings Inspired The Name "Bluetooth"

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The modern device Bluetooth is named after the Viking king Harald Bluetooth, who united many Viking tribes. The founder of Bluetooth hoped the device could unite people just like the king had done. The symbol is a mixture of the Nordic words "B" and "H", which stands for Harald Bluetooth.

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